Today Random House announced the April 13 publication of Beatrice & Virgil, a new novel from Canadian author Yann Martel—his first since the surprise 2002 hit Life of Pi. The book was previously scheduled for a summer release.

Few details are available, though Amazon has this description:

A famous author receives a mysterious letter from a man who is a struggling writer but also turns out to be a taxidermist, an eccentric and fascinating character who does not kill animals but preserves them as they lived, with skill and dedication — among them a howler monkey named Virgil and a donkey named Beatrice.

The animal characters and the names Virgil and Beatrice, drawn from Dante's Divine Comedy, hint at a Pi-like aesthetic for the new book, which has also been described as an allegory for the Holocaust. Jamie Byng, the Managing Director at Martel's Canadian publisher, Canongate, acknowledged the difficulty of following up a book like Pi but promises that "Yann has risen to the challenge by writing another exceptional novel, a wildly imaginative and multi-layered story that engrosses from the first page."

Confession: I didn't read Life of Pi. Any fans want to tell me what I'm missing? Are you looking forward to the new book?

Related in BookPage: our review of Martel's story collection, The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios.

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